Colombian leftist Gustavo Petro came out on top in the first round of the Andean country’s presidential election on Sunday and will face a surprise contender – businessman Rodolfo Hernandez – in a second round on June 19.
Petro, a former member of the M-19 guerrilla movement who has vowed profound economic and social change, had 40.3% of votes, national registry office tallies showed, with 99.9% of ballot boxes counted.
Hernandez, the septuagenarian former mayor of Bucaramanga, who has promised to fight corruption even though he is under investigation for graft, won 28.2%.
Surveys ahead of the first round showed Hernandez – who now has the support of third place candidate Federico Gutierrez and likely many of his supporters – would lag just a few points behind Petro in a run-off vote.
Petro, a 62-year-old former mayor of Bogota, has consistently led opinion polls on promises to redistribute pensions, offer free public university and begin to change what he says are centuries of profound inequality.
“What’s not in doubt today is change,” Petro told cheering supporters in central Bogota. “Now it’s about seeing what we will do with Colombia, what Colombian society wants for it’s own country.”